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Judge Throws out Whole Foods Case

By Thomas McKinney

A federal judge recently dismissed a case surrounding the firing of three former Whole Foods employees. The employees argued that they were disciplined for wearing masks that had “Black Lives Matter” written on them and alleged that this violated the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits racial discrimination and retaliation. The judge assessed that there was little evidence to prove that Whole Foods was in violation of Title VII and that they were simply enforcing their dress code policy which bans “visible slogans, messages, logos, or advertising that is not company-related.”

The employees proclaimed that Whole Foods was only enforcing its dress code on items that had an anti-racist slogan such as “Black Lives Matter.” The judge stated that this does not fall under Title VII and that “at worst, they were selectively enforcing a dress code to suppress certain speech in the workplace.” The judge ultimately dissolved this case because the plaintiffs failed to adequately plead their claims for racial discrimination and retaliation under Title VII but rather kept relaying that Whole Foods was only installing their dress code after employees started wearing “Black Lives Matter” apparel.

About the Author
Tom McKinney is an experienced NJ Employment Lawyer in all major areas of labor and employment law, including discrimination, harassment, overtime violations, wage and hour claims, sexual harassment, wrongful discharge, Title VII, ADA, ADEA, FMLA, LAD, FLSA, and all other employment law claims. Tom is admitted to practice in the States of New Jersey and New York, United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Southern District of New York, District of New Jersey, and United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Prior to forming the firm, Tom practiced at Gibbons P.C. in Newark, NJ. If you have any questions regarding this article, contact Tom here today.